Tags: jeb | bush | jr | hispanics | gop | republicans

Jeb Bush Jr.: GOP Needs to Appeal to Hispanics

By Henry J. Reske and Ashley Martella   |   Thursday, 02 Dec 2010 06:26 PM

Republicans should support the DREAM Act and tone down the rhetoric about building border fences and tossing Hispanics out of the country, the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush tells Newsmax.TV.

In an exclusive interview Thursday, Jeb Bush Jr. had high praise for recent GOP actions to reach out to Hispanics, including those by Newt Gingrich.

Bush praised fellow Floridian and Sen.-elect Marco Rubio, calling him a “phenomenal candidate” who will make an even better senator. However, he believes Rubio was wrong in his opposition to the DREAM Act, a measure that would allow children of illegal aliens to become citizens if they attend a U.S. college or serve in the U.S. military.

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“I think politicians are on the wrong side of the issue,” he said. “I think they should be supporting the DREAM Act. I think it’s a good policy. I think there are some things that need a little tweaking, if you will, in the bill but I think the military is a most impressive and important institution in this country and anyone that’s willing to go through that institution has a right that right to be a U.S. citizen in my opinion.”

Bush is the chief operating officer of Jeb Bush and Associates, a consulting firm, and president of a real estate firm in Coral Gables, Fla. He is also chairman of the board of directors of SunPAC, a Florida-based Hispanic outreach group.

In addition to Bush’s group, others in the Republican Party have formed outreach groups to bring Hispanics into the GOP fold. Politico reports that Jeb Bush Sr., former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, and former Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota have formed the Hispanic Leadership Network. Also, Gingrich co-founded the The Americano, a Spanish-language website and sponsor of the first Annual Hispanic Forum in Washington, D.C.

As Politico notes, the GOP has a steep hill to climb to woo Hispanics, who gave 67 percent of their support to Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election.

To begin bringing non-Cuban Hispanics to the Republican Party, Bush Jr. believes the rhetoric must change.

“I think the best thing we can do is start changing the tone when we reach out to Hispanics as it relates to the immigration issue,” he said. “A lot of times our tone right now as a party is how high should we build a fence, how big should it be and let’s kick them all out. And that tone, that negative tone, turns off a lot of Latinos.

“And I think if we start changing our tone, fixing our message about how we are going to use immigration to improve our economy, how we are going to use immigration to create jobs. I think that’s something that we can begin to do to start attracting more Latinos into the party.”

Bush, who spoke at the Americano’s conference in Washington, had high praise for Gingrich for putting together the forum and make clear what the goal was.

“There’s no question that in terms of the demographic growth in this country it’s starting to go toward Latinos,” he said. “One in four kids in kindergarten today come from Latino decent. So, if the Republican Party wants to be successful they really need to start reaching out to Latinos. Newt sees this.”

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